Holy Shit. Shots have been fired and bad guys are down. What do you do next?
Mossad Ayoob is a former police officer and today is a professional witness for self-defense incidents. He gives classes on every aspect of such an incident. A wise person would do well taking everything he says to heart.
Mossad Ayoob has detailed five steps the defender in a self-defense shooting incident should take that maximize your chances of remaining out of prison.
- Establish the active dynamic. "This man attacked me and I had to defend myself."
- Be willing to cooperate. "I am happy to make a statement and I will fully cooperate once I have consulted with an attorney."
- Point out evidence.
- Point out witnesses.
- Cooperate through the lawyer.
Remember, 95% of self-defense encounters consist of bad guys sizing you up as their next target, you see them and show/say that you have a weapon, they run away. 4% you actually have to pull and present your weapon, and in 1% do you actually pull the trigger.
IN ALL OF THESE CASES YOU IMMEDIATELY CALL 911.
Why? Because the bad guys will also be calling.
Imagine this, you’re walking along, and three thugs appear, aggressively approaching you, demanding your valuables. You reveal your weapon, put your hand on it and say, “Not today, fellas,” and they walk/run away.
Once the perps are out of sign, you should immediately call 911. A VERY IMPORTANT thing to remember is, when you hear the phone ringing after you dialed 911, the recorder is running. Everything you say before the operator answers is recorded for all posterity and your trial. Be careful what you say to the operator, and what you say before the operator.
And here are The Armed Attorneys telling you what to say when you call 911:
You need to call 911 and set that narrative because while you’re doing that, one of the guys who just tried to rob you is also calling 911, saying, “My friends and I were just walking down the street and this guy pulled a weapon and tried to rob us!”
Now, if the police arrive, they have two conflicting stories, yours and theirs. In the presence of two stories, common sense (hopefully) by the police would indicate which story is closer to the facts. But if the police arrive with just their story, you are the default suspect, even if you tell the officer what you should have told the 911 operator.
If shots were fired and the attacker is down in a pool of blood, CALL 911. Again, give name, location, say “I was attacked and I defended myself. Send police and EMS now, he/we are wounded.” There was a self-defense case years ago, where a man justifiably shot another man. The defender and his son stood over the guy and watched him bleed out. The defender was charged and convicted of Manslaughter because he didn’t call 911. You don’t have to provide first aid, but you do have to activate EMS immediately.
If the bad guy(s) had weapon(s), DO NOT PICK THEM UP. Kick them away from the bad guys, just far enough they can’t reach them. If there are witnesses, tell a witness to stand near the weapon, don’t let the bad guys get it and don’t let anyone touch it. One unarmed gentleman successfully defended himself and friends against an armed attacker. He picked up the weapon and moved it to “put in a safe place” and was subsequently charged with “stealing” the attackers’ weapon.
When the police are pulling up, holster/lay down your weapon (DON’T UNLOAD IT, there is important reason why) and do everything the police tell you to do. Don’t try to explain, don’t argue, don’t balk, don’t resist. You will likely be handcuffed and searched.
You then “Establish the dynamic.” You say something like, “Officer, I was in fear of my life and defended myself. I will cooperate and give a full statement once I have consulted with an attorney. Until then, I am invoking my right to a lawyer and my right to remain silent.”
You should point out evidence and witnesses. This indicates cooperation on your part and lends credence to your statement.
You then SHUT YOUR PIE HOLE. If you must answer a question, you repeat word-for-word, “Officer, I was in fear of my life and defended myself. I will cooperate and give a full statement once I have consulted with an attorney. Until then, I am invoking my right to a lawyer and my right to remain silent.”
You give ONE statement, through your lawyer, after you've slept on it and processed what happened. If you make multiple statements, any, and I do mean ANY variance from one statement to another can and will be used by a District Attorney who desires to prosecute you. It can be as simple as adding, changing or omitting a single word. As an example, calling the perp’s car a “light tan” in one statement and a “crème color” in another is enough for a DA to shove a crowbar into that gap and leverage a conviction out of you. If you don't give a statement, your later one can't contradict the "first" one.
Given the fact that you are the victim and defended yourself, state that you are happy to cooperate with your attorney present and say nothing else. You then contact an attorney who specializes in self-defense incidents (you do have insurance, don’t you?) and let them do the talking. In matters like this, you give ONE statement, after you have consulted with your attorney. I know I've said it several times, it's that important.
Now let’s talk about biology for a moment. Two very important concepts to remember.
1. During such an incident, you will experience an “adrenalin dump.” This means you just had your “fight or flight” response dialed up to 11. Coming down from that will cause all kinds of physical reactions, “word vomit” among them. Your brain will try to process what just happened verbally. The kind and friendly officer there with you helping you process will record everything you say, to be used as evidence against you. This is why you say the minimum amount of (practiced) words to set the dynamic and then shut up.
2. In order to give a clear, concise and correct statement about the event, you need 2-3 days of restful sleep. While you sleep, your brain processes what’s in your short-term memory, containing the days’ events, then packages them to be shipped off to the long-term memory. It is this processing that allows you to recall and articulate important details. If you give a statement right away, then amend it later with this processed information, it will make it look like you were lying, either then or now. You weren't, but that's how lawyers who want your blood will act.
In the end, do what you have to do to survive the fight. Call 911 ASAP and set the narrative to your favor, repeat that for the police on-scene, then shut up. You will never be able to talk your way out of a situation like this, however you can get yourself in a whole lot deeper if you keep your mouth open.